Translation: Dentistry into English

By Celia Burns on 8th April 2018

What do all those funny names and letters that the dentist calls out during your healthy mouth assessment mean? We spill the beans.

(We have tried to include all the common ones. If there are any you want to know that we have missed out, do email us or post a question on our Facebook wall)

Occlusal biting surface of tooth
Incisal sharp edge of front tooth
Mesial surface of tooth nearest the middle of your mouth
Distal surface of tooth furthest from the middle of your mouth
Buccal surface of tooth nearest your cheek or lips
Palatal surface of tooth nearest your palate
Lingual surface of tooth nearest your tongue

MO Mesial-occlusal. Used to describe the surfaces of a tooth that need treatment or are filled eg; MO composite
DO, MOD, BOP etc As for MO.

As a rule of thumb, fillings for one surface only are usually small, two surface fillings are medium, three surface are big, and four surface usually require you to bring a camp bed.

TMJ Temporomandibular Joint. The joint that connects the lower jaw to the skull
TMD Temporomandibular joint dysfunction syndrome. The joint is in incorrect alignment and there is a problem as a result. It is best to avoid saying the full name as you are likely to end up with TMD if you try.

Extra Oral The areas outside the mouth
Intra Oral The areas inside the mouth

Soft tissues The tongue, lips, cheeks, palate and throat
TLCs As soft tissues
Pink Bits As soft tissues; dentist thinks he has a sense of humour.

Composite Tooth coloured filling
Amalgam Silver filling
GIC Glass Ionomer filling (also tooth coloured).

BPC Bonded Porcelain Crown
FGC Full Gold Crown
PV Porcelain veneer

RCT Root canal therapy. Removal of the dead and decayed remnants of the internal nerve and blood vessels of a tooth. Not nearly as unpleasant as it sounds.

White bits Teeth. See pink bits.

XLA extraction under local anaesthetic

BPE Basic Periodontal Examination. A screening test that detects gum disease.

BOP Bleeding on Probing. Indicates gum inflammation in that area.

Caries Tooth Decay

Sinus either a small opening on the gum that is allowing pus to drain from an infected tooth, or the area in the skull near the nose that can be blocked during a cold.

Perio The condition of the periodontal tissues, the tissues that support the teeth in the jaw.

Perio disease Periodontal disease. Gum disease or “pyorrhoea”. This varies in severity from mild to Nanny McPhee.

Gingivitis Inflamed gums

You may also see acronyms on your notes:

NAD no abnormality detected.

BW bite wings. A Type of X-ray
PA Periapical. Another type of X-ray
OPG Orthopantomogram. Yet another type of X-ray
XRR X ray results

TP Treatment Plan

RA Risk assessment
Or Relative Analgesia, a type of sedation

LA local anaesthetic

ANK Appointment not kept
DNA Did not attend
POM Patient owes money.

Avoid getting too many of these latter three on your notes as you risk ending up with
NTBSA Not to be seen again.

And other ones you probably don’t want to find in your records:

PIA Officially: patient is apprehensive. Actually means Pain in the – Well, you get the drift.

DECEASED. Means you’re dead.  Be worried.

Share Article

  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Twitter
  • Share by Email

About the Author

Celia Burns - Principal Dentist & Clinical Director

My first love isn’t teeth; it’s people. That’s why I love being a dentist. It’s the best feeling in the world to be able to help an anxious patient, who has possibly avoided going to the dentist for many years, build their trust in me, and I get a real thrill from helping someone achieve the confidence in their smile that they want.

Six Month Smiles BACD - British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry British Dental Association The Oral Health Foundation GDC